Our faculty members engage with colleagues around the world on interdisciplinary, use-inspired research, with a focus on solving global challenges in health, security, and sustainability.
The faculty and the University form productive research collaborations with global partners in industry, government, and other academic institutions.
Specific examples of Northeastern’s global reach in research include:
Information design and data visualization lend meaning to complex problems ranging from levee breaks to Mars landings, according to experts in the field who spoke at a daylong symposium.
Engineering professor Yiannis Levendis was awarded the 2013 George Westinghouse Gold Medal in recognition of his contributions to the power field of mechanical engineering.
Student Commencement speaker Miguel de Corral has worked, studied, and conducted field research throughout the world. He dreams of becoming a foreign policy adviser.
Matthias Ruth, a Northeastern professor of public policy and engineering, worked with an international team of scholars to study how the response to a 2009 earthquake in Italy can guide future city-planning efforts.
Research by Northeastern economist William Dickens shows that making malaria tests available in countries like Uganda leads to more effective treatment of the insect-borne disease.
In 2009, Northeastern University network scientist Alessandro Vespignani developed a computational model that predicted the spread of the H1N1 virus. Three years later, new studies show that these predictions were highly accurate.
In her paper, “Beats Not Bombs: Hip-Hop to Create Peace in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” recent Northeastern University alumna Karin Heim, AMD’11, investigated how artists use rap as a tool to help the people of Israel find common ground in the conflict.
George Thrush, professor and chair of the architecture department, took twelve architecture students to China in the summer of 2010; they looked at the relationship between historical Chinese architecture and the rapid burst of development over the past 20 years. They visited the historic capital city of Beijing, as well as the younger and more Western city of Shanghai. The group produced a comprehensive publication based on their observations.
Kwamina Panford, an associate professor of African American Studies at Northeastern, has been awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study in Ghana and determine whether the country is likely to manage newfound resources wisely and well.
In February, Northeastern doctoral student Burleigh Hendrickson arrived in Tunisia for comparative history research on the social movements of 1968 in that country, in France, and in Western Africa. Hendrickson is digging up literature produced from that postcolonial era, including rare, underground pamphlets smuggled into the country. But he’s also capturing a rich oral history from those who were alive at the time.
Elizabeth Maddock Dillon, associate professor of English, recently returned from a research and teaching trip to Haiti, where she assisted in developing teaching curricula for schools in tent communities and also taught a course for secondary-school teachers on narrative and trauma at the Université Caraïbe. This fall, Dillon will debut a new experiential education class called Engaging Haiti, which she describes as an intersection of literary and cultural studies. The course will guide students through the history of Haiti and the country’s literature up to the present.
The spread of HIV/AIDS across Africa has had a devastating effect for decades. Richard Wamai, assistant professor of African American studies, is researching how a range of interventions — particularly male circumcision — can offer hope for the continent’s future in HIV prevention.
First-generation West African immigrants from Nigeria and Ghana transition smoothly into major societal communities — such as the workplace and the neighborhood — but have not built stable, mutually beneficial friendships and intimate relationships with native-born Americans, according to research conducted by Mindelyn Buford II, an assistant professor of sociology and African American studies.
Tim Brown, an associate professor of history at Northeastern, uncovers the hidden or neglected history of people who drive popular movements. He focuses on 1960s countercultural movements in West Germany, when student demonstrations and mass protests rocked that nation and the world. His third book, scheduled for publication next year, is a case study of West Germany’s countercultural movements and their connections to other radical movements around the world during the tumultuous 1960s.
Professor Nikos Passas, who teaches in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, is studying anti-corruption on a global scale with the United Nations. He recently held a workshop with the UN to discuss the development of a first-of-its-kind curriculum for courses on preventing corruption in the public sphere. He will present at the fifth annual Conference and General Meeting of the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities, to be held this October in Marrakesh, Morocco. He is also working with the Argentinean government to train officials in anti-corruption.
Antarctica research co-op leaves an impression
Biochemistry and marine biology professor Bill Detrich and biochemistry major Corey Allard studied the effect of global climate change on marine organisms in Antarctica.
Chemistry professor Michael Pollastri and his team of 12 postdoctoral, graduate and undergraduate students are bringing both attention and solutions to diseases neglected by Big Pharma research. Pollastri and his research team collaborate with leading experts from across the globe — including England, Spain, Switzerland and the United States — whose focus is on African trypanosomiasis, or sleeping sickness, and other neglected diseases.
Northeastern student researchers have created technology designed to gather more meaningful information on customer habits, inventory, and fire safety in retail stores such as CVS, Stop & Shop, and Home Depot. The technology—which was developed as a College of Engineering senior capstone project — is part of an emerging partnership among Northeastern, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and global manufacturing company Tyco International, Inc.
Alexander Gorlov, professor emeritus of mechanical engineering at Northeastern, designed an environmentally friendly water turbine. One of his engines currently powers some 500 homes on the Korean Island of Jindo.
From his sensor-technology laboratory on campus, civil and environmental engineering professor Ming Wang monitors some of the world’s largest bridges, including the Zhenjiang Bay Bridge, a cable-stayed structure in China. He gauges the stress, strain, vibration, and movement the bridges withstand in commuter traffic and weather conditions.
Civil and environmental engineering professor Peter Furth studies bikeway and road design practices in the Netherlands—where bicycling is eight times less dangerous and 40 times more popular than in the United States — to see how bike paths can be adapted for American use.
Astrid María Debuchy, a visiting scholar at Northeastern’s Institute on Urban Health Research, is conducting in-depth research on the impact of environmental factors on patient health in Cuba.
Assistant professor of law Rachel Rosenbloom’s current research interests focus on deportation, citizenship, the immigration consequences of criminal convictions, and LGBT asylum claims.
Allan Bird, the Darla and Frederick Brodsky Trustee Professor in International Business, conducts research on the challenges facing today’s global leaders.
Denise Dunlap-Hinkler, assistant professor of international business and strategy, studies pharmaceutical companies’ research and development and innovation processes.
Associate professor of marketing Fleura Bardhi conducts research on the emergence of a new type of world traveler.
Steve Vallas, a professor and the chair of sociology department, studies the sociology of work and employment. One of his current projects focuses on the dynamics that characterize anti-sweatshop movements seeking to defend the rights of workers in the Central American apparel industry. He is also concerned with the impact of globalization on the structure of work in the United States.
Ravi Ramamurti, Distinguished Professor of International Business and director of the Center for Emerging Markets, conducted research on “reverse innovation,” which is a phenomenon of breakthrough innovations that happen first in developing countries, spread to other developing countries, and then “trickle up” to developed countries.
Law professor Hope Lewis, who cofounded the law school's Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy, recently completed The Boston Principles on the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of Noncitizens (PDF). The principals include 30 standards drawn from international human rights, humanitarian, and migration-related treaties, guidelines, and other statements of best practice as well as recommendations by United States – based civil society.
Northeastern hosted a delegation of Iraqi mental health professionals to share with them the innovative trauma and substance abuse treatment programs developed by the Institute on Urban Health Research (IUHR)—knowledge they can integrate into medical programs in their homeland.
Joan Fitzgerald, professor of law and public policy, studies how national and EU policy allows for progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating a green economy.
Katherine Tucker, professor and chair of the health sciences department, is the principal investigator of a $10 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the surprisingly high incidence of heart disease and other chronic conditions among Puerto Rican adults living in the United States.
Assistant professor of history Ilham Khuri-Makdisi studies the articulation and dissemination of radical ideas, such as socialism and anarchism, in eastern Mediterranean cities. She is particularly interested in analyzing the establishment of migrant networks of intellectuals, dramatists, and workers, and their roles in the spread of radical ideas in and between Beirut, Cairo, and Alexandria.
Jerome Hajjar, Professor and Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is writing several papers with colleagues in Japan on two subjects: a) the results of shake table tests of the seismic resistance of a new controlled rocking structural system that the team conducted on the E-Defense shake table in Japan in 2009; b) the results of experiments on new types of buckling restrained braces that are used in seismic resistance systems for buildings. The tests were conducted at the University of Illinois and were funded by Nippon Steel Engineering.